Paint Guide: Choosing The Right Paint For Your DIY Project #sponsored


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Painting can be fun. And it can also be a pain. No one likes to see their DIY projects need a do-over in a short time because they used the wrong paint. So, before you start your next renovation, be sure to check out this simple paint guide to make sure you are using the best paint possible for your project to ensure its beauty for years to come.

Matte (or Flat) Paint

This is the flattest paint available. It is usually used to coat walls that go through the least traffic. If a wall goes through weeks of no touching (in other words, a ceiling), matte is the best coat to apply. It hides any imperfections in the wall.


  • This paint is flat, so it doesn’t reflect much light and is the least shiny.
  • Hides imperfections in the wall and the paint job very well (especially with a dark color).


  • It is the least durable of the paint types.
  • It doesn’t withstand scratches and nicks.
  • It is usually impossible to scrub (despite what the label tells you).
  • Constantly touching up can take up time and money.

Where to use:

  • Ceilings
  • Very low traffic guest rooms (grandma’s house)

Flat Enamel Paint

This should be used on walls that go through a little more traffic than matte. Apply a coat of this to rooms that aren’t used often (guestrooms, guest bathrooms) and rooms that are used by only a few people (master bedroom, older kids’ rooms).


  • It is more durable than matte.
  • It cleans up more easily.


  • You’re still going to have to spend a lot of time touching up over nicks and scratches.
  • It is a bit shinier than matte, so it doesn’t hide imperfections as well.

Where to use:

  • Use this paint in guest bathrooms and older kids’ rooms.
  • Any room that has little traffic is a good idea.

Egg Shell Paint

It’s called egg shell because it looks the surface of one! This is a good coat to use on walls that go through moderate traffic. It’s much less of a hassle to clean up and it feels and looks smooth like an eggshell.


  • It is more durable than flat enamel.
  • It’s a bit glossy and brightens up a room.
  • It’s much easier to clean than matte and flat enamel.


  • It can get too shiny.
  • Some colors can reveal shallow imperfections in the wall and the paint job.

Where to use:

  • Use this paint in younger kids’ rooms and in other high traffic bedrooms.
  • Mid traffic kitchens and bathrooms: use to your discretion.
  • Steam and hot oil can damage it easily.

Satin Paint

It’s more glossy than egg shell, and it feels like satin. Satin is used for walls that go through a good amount of traffic: steam or oil from mid-traffic kitchens and bathrooms can usually be cleaned without having to touch up on the paint job.


  • Withstands light scrubbing and multiple cleanings.
  • Smoother finish than all the previously mentioned coats.


  • Brush marks show very easily, especially with bad technique and/or cheap brushes.
  • Imperfections in the wall reveal a lot more easily than matte/enamel/eggshell.

Where to use:

  • Use this coat for toddlers’ rooms and mid-traffic bathrooms and kitchens.
  • It could be scrubbed more easily, so light steam and hot oil could be cleaned without touch-ups.

Semi-Gloss Paint

This is a very glossy coat. It’s durable and strong, and you don’t usually need to touch up when cleaning it. Use it in main kitchens and bathrooms: places that have to endure a lot of hot steam and oil (among other things) and for doors and molds (they go through a lot of physical stress).


  • It’s more durable than every coat except for full gloss.
  • Very easy to scrub and maintain without touching up.


  • It will show all flaws in a paint job. Practice brushing technique and use higher quality brushes.
  • It will show some flaws in the pre-painted wall. Try to use sandpaper to smooth them out before painting.

Where to use:

  • Kitchen/bathroom cabinets, molding, doorways for high traffic rooms.
  • Full gloss


Gloss Paint

Use this paint for the highest durability possible. Use it on walls going through professional-level abuse (restaurant kitchens and bathrooms, party rooms, etc.). At home, use it on windowsills and other decorative wall accessories. The plastic look that full gloss gives off matches well with them.


  • It’s the most durable coat you can get.
  • It can be scrubbed repeatedly.
  • It gives off a very plastic look.
  • It has a very high gloss and shine.


  • It will reveal every imperfection in a paint job and a wall.
  • If you want to use it for a living room or a bedroom, you will have to make sure your walls are sanded and your technique is great.

Where to use:

  • Windowsills, very high traffic kitchens (i.e., restaurant kitchens) and bathrooms.


About Jay Crawford

Jay enjoys cooking, music {his favorite artists are KISS, Def Leppard, the Eagles and a lot of the newer country music}, and sports {Carolina Panthers, Tarheels and the Appalachian State Mountaineers}. He also enjoys grilling out and cruising around with the radio up and the windows down.


  1. I wish I would’ve seen this earlier. I painted my living room walls. I was walking through with a bowl of chili and tripped. Food flew all over. Even on the ceiling. In some areas I had to use a mop to clean up. I used the wrong paint because now my walls are streaked up.

  2. Sherry Compton says:

    Thanks. We are looking into repainting our entry way and downstairs bathrooms. While I normally fell like I know what “look” I’m going for, I can’t seem to decide at the moment. We’ve had those two places decorated the same for so long that it is hard to see it differently, but I want a change and upgrade. It’ll be nice to have it looking new and fresh. I think, after reading your post, I will choose a Satin paint for the bathroom. Thanks.

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